By Amil Imani
I was born in a Muslim family that did not push religion down the kids’ throats. Yet, religion always cast a big shadow on everything. I just had to deal with it and couldn’t simply set it aside. And Islam, the Shiite Islam was the most pervasive religion around. I went to all kinds of sources, people and books to settle the issue. Should I believe in religion? If so, should it be the religion of the overwhelming majority? If not, then what? I couldn’t let this question just hang in the air.
My relentless search took me to numerous sources, with all kinds of explanations. Some praised Islam, specifically Shiite Islam, to high heaven and presented their evidence in support of the adulation, never mind the fact that even Shiite Islam is fractured into no less than one hundred different sects.
I found the house of Muhammad fractured so extensively that there was no way any one of them could represent what Muhammad launched. The Sunnis, for instance, consider all Shiites as infidels and the Shiites label Sunnis as betrayer of Muhammad’s faith and his household.
One interesting version I encountered has to do with how Islam was born in the first place. It is an enchanting account, narrated to me by a greatly learned agnostic who confessed disaffection for religions in general. This is what he told me about the role Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, played in what he called, birthing Islam. Here is gist of my conversation with the man, from the notes I scribbled, mostly in answer to my questions.
“Leopards have spots,” he said at one point “to deceive their prey and devour them.” People don’t have spots. They have something much more effective in getting them what they want. Their brain is a big deceptive machine. So, depending on any situation, the brain can devise a scheme in an attempt to secure what it wants. Not always successfully, because the other brain it is trying to deceive may not fall for the scheme. But, people try anyway. It is the best tool they have for getting what they want. And as they keep using this deceptive machine, they get better at using it and as they get better they are rewarded more and are likely to keep on using it further.”
“Forgive me sir,” I interrupted, “Are you using your machine right now answering my questions? Telling me the truth or deceiving me for your own purposes?”
“I ignore your rudeness,” he said, “but let me explain. Islam is fraud and deception. To begin with ‘Islam’ does not mean ‘peace.’ I’m not Arab, but I know the language as well as any educated Arab. ‘Islam’ comes from the root word ‘taslim‘ which means surrender. Surrender to whom, you may ask? To Allah. Who is Allah? The lord of the universe, there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his sole emissary for now and eternity, they say. And their rallying cry is Allah-u-Akbar. They deceptively translate that as meaning God is Great. It literally means, Allah is the greatest. The word for great is kabir. Akbar is the superlative of the word and means greatest. It is an exclusionary supremacist claim. It rejects our Persian lord Ahuramazda and the gods of other people.”
“I must learn Arabic to read these things on my own. My father always tells me I should find things for myself. I am not questioning what you are telling me. But I also know you disapprove of Islam, perhaps for good reasons. And from what I have seen, there is not much I find agreeable in Islam.”
“Yes, yes. One must use his own good judgment as lamp to his feet in life’s journey. I am glad you intend to find things for yourself. Let me tell you a gem from the Christian Bible. It says, ‘by their fruit shall ye know them.’ Muslims are the fruits of Islam. What they believe and practice is the best evidence condemning the belief.”
“Not all Muslims are bad, sir.”
“Yes. There are always exceptions. I am speaking about the big picture. The overall evilness of this belief and its devastating negative impact on all of us….